The Home Stretch –
Before we knew it, we were suddenly down to our last few days in Antequera.
On Monday, our main activity was a bike ride. David decided to take us to a nearby city on a hill – Cartaojal. He told us the ride would be about 15 miles. Great, we thought, he is being kind enough to keep the mileage low since it is our last bike ride. Turns out the mileage was low because it was uphill all the way there!
We started out taking some side roads to get to the outskirts of Antequera.
A few miles down the road, we turned off onto a dirt road. This signpost was at the turn. There is a network of paths all over Europe that eventually feed into the Camino de Santiago at some point. The Mozarabe Camino begins along the coast and makes it possible to reach Santiago going South to North. (The “main” Camino goes East to West). If you look toward the bottom of the pole, you’ll see the traditional symbol for the Camino which marks “The Way”.
I stopped for the signpost picture before I knew we were turning. David pointed toward the road bridge and said we’d be passing under it.
From that point on, we were on dirt/farm roads passing through olive groves -continually heading up, slowly but surely.
At the 7.5 mile mark, we were finally entering Cartaojal. We made a rest stop at this cafe:
Nearby was the town fountain.
I also noticed this interesting building and realized it is the post office.
When we were ready to leave, David said we’d go out the other side of town. It was a bit more uphill at first, but he promised we’d appreciate the point where our ride changed from uphill to downhill all the way back to the hotel.
I have mentioned before that many of the towns in this area have laws about the exterior of the house being white and the roof tiles uniformly terra cotta colored -but I began noticing that many of the homeowners decorate the lower part of their home’s exterior with a variety of materials, such as stone, floor tile and traditional Spanish tile.
As we left Cartaojal, we were going up momentarily and I only got one picture that turned out OK.
We finally topped the last bit of hill and turned to follow the main road out of town and realized we were at the top of a very impressive hill. We went screaming down it – so fast we didn’t even need to pedal for quite a ways. At one point I hit about 28 or 29 miles per hour.
As promised, the way back was all downhill for the most part. After the big hill, the downhill was more of a gentle slope.
The only thing that caught my eye for a photo on the way back was this “gate to nowhere” along the side of the road. I yelled…STOP! It is one of the very few times, I made Mike and David stop for a picture. I thought the iron work on the gate was beautiful.
Before we knew it, we were rolling into the hotel parking lot. One one side of the hotel there is a very large open patio area where I think they have outdoor parties/receptions. The hotel has a storage room at the back that Sendero Sur keeps bikes in when they have guests who need them.
They have quite a few of these metal “warmers” placed around this area. I think it would look quite interesting with a fire going in it.
This is the elevation of the bike ride from my Garmin GPS. It probably looks more dramatic than it actually was, but you can see how starting on the left, the profile gets higher and higher and then you see the “ski slope” where we went down the big hill.
Another “it only happens to us” story: Right now, if you leave the country you have to have a negative Covid test to re-enter the USA. There is a do-it-yourself test you can buy that you complete with the assistance of an on-line medical testing site. Not all home tests are approved for travel -so you have to make sure you have the right one.
The USA says that you need to get your results within 3 days before the day of travel. So Monday was the first day we could do the test. We decided to do it sooner in the event we had an issue and needed to get testing done somewhere in Antequera. I connected on line with the testing site and walked through my test with them providing the step-by-step instructions and watching what I did via the laptop camera. After they review the results, they Email you your proof of the results.
I went first. No problems. I’m negative…whew! Then Mike sat down to do it. One of the steps is to put 6 drops of liquid out of the provided bottle onto a tiny circle on the test card. Mike opened his bottle…squeezed… squinted… squeezed…squinted… only to realize that there was NO fluid in that bottle! Luckily I had brought two extra tests as a precaution. He had to start over with a new test and FINALLY, his results came back negative too.
The next day we had our last hike with David. Rain was predicted. Antonio asked if we still wanted to hike or not? We said we would. It was Spain’s last chance to rain on Mike before we left. He says that it always rains on him in Spain and I think he would have been disappointed if it hadn’t rained on him at least once!
Today was going to be another route where going out, we’d be constantly going uphill…and downhill on the way back. Not nearly as much fun on foot as it is on bikes.
David opted to use an umbrella and offered us that option, but we had rain gear and were fine. I can see how all-purpose an umbrella would be for guest of all sizes who might not have packed rain gear.
We had two assistant guides. Lily was back and we met Lola for the first time.
Lola didn’t want to get wet. When she first got out of the van she tried to stand between Mike’s legs to get out of the drizzle. The day started out quite gloomy and wet…but toward the end of our hike, conditions had improved.
We were looking at “Lover’s Leap” from a different angle – It doesn’t look like an old man from where we were.
David pointed out Cartaojal off in the distance. This is my attempt to photograph it. It is the whitish blob off in the distance.
Our destination was the top of this hill where there were towers and a fire lookout station.
Just before we reached the fire lookout tower, Lily caught scent of something and disappeared off into the wilderness. David said that usually she pops back out before he goes too much further up the trail, but this time she didn’t. We took a break at the tower before turning around, so I asked Mike to take a picture of bedraggled me. What I didn’t realize was that he also caught David higher up -he was up there looking for any sign of Lily.
This is what the watchers have a view of from the front of the lookout.
After a short break, we still hadn’t seen Lily. David was quite worried about her. We walked back toward the spot where David thought she’d taken off into the bushes. He called and whistled, but no sign of her. He ended up having us wait on the road while he went bushwhacking to find her. It took about 5 minutes, but he did find her. She’d found something gross and was trying to eat it.
The road back down:
Looking back at the tower on our way down.
We could have stayed on the road all the way back to the van, but that would have been too easy! We took a side loop.
This rocky outcrop seemed strangely out of place in the landscape we were walking through.
The GPS “picture” of our route:
That afternoon Antonio suggested another swimming session in the lap pool at the gym for the afternoon workout because my knee was starting to bother me and Mike’s shoulder was starting to bother him. We were told to meet up with Noemi at the pool. She was so sweet looking (and very nice), but she was absolutely diabolical when it came to giving us a good pool workout.
On Tuesday evening a new guest for the fitness escape arrived from Ottawa, Canada. It was nice to have dinner with someone besides each other for a change. He seemed to be a very nice, but shy man. He was so quiet and soft spoken that he made Mike seem loquacious by comparison! We tried to be very encouraging about what he’d be experiencing during his two week stay.
After dinner we paused in the bar and ordered our last two cervezas to toast the end of our time in Antequera.
We’d opted to not do any activities on Wednesday so that we could sleep a bit later and take our time packing. I was a bit surprised to see how long it actually took me to get everything stuffed back into my suitcase. In addition to clothes we had quite a bit of gear and electronics to square away.
After lunch our transportation took us back to Malaga where we spent the night in a hotel near the airport. We arrived too late in the day to do any touring in Malaga -so that leaves me a reason to go back to Spain in the future. Our flight left at 7:00 AM the next morning -we had to get up at 4:00 AM to get to the airport. We had a very long day of flying before we finally landed safe and sound at our home airport.
Here’s a handy bit of travel advice. Be sure to check your departure gate carefully! In Paris, we’d mistaken an Air France flight to Atlanta for the Delta flight to Atlanta -and were almost stowaways on Air France! We did think it was odd that two flights to Atlanta were leaving within minutes of each other from gates quite near to each other in the same terminal.
Our last bit of “it only happens to us” drama was as we boarded the correct flight to Atlanta: Mike told me to go ahead of him in the line. We were boarding a bit sooner than we were supposed to and I think he was setting me up to be the one the gate agent would tell to go back to the end of the line…while he stood behind me with an innocent “I told her!” look on his face. I scanned my boarding pass and the little gate opened to let me through. Yeah! Then I turned around and saw Mike standing by the ticket counter. He gave me the “I have no idea what the problem is” shrug of his shoulders. Turns out, he was selected for a random security check, which took a bit of extra time. I said… I’ll see you on board and left him!.
Once aboard it was smooth sailing for the next 9 or so hours. We landed in Atlanta where we needed to catch one more flight to get home and by the time we got through all the steps (and delays) for arriving international passengers and got to the gate, they were already boarding all remaining passengers. We just made that last flight…whew!!
As Mike and I often say to each other – It’s never easy! Even so, the hassles don’t seem to stop me from dreaming up our next d’aventure. Where will we go. next?
Categories: Antequera Spain Part 6